BRUSSELS (AFP) — Belgian-Brazilian brewing giant Inbev is preparing a 46-billion-dollar bid for Anheuser-Busch, US maker of Budweiser beer, the Financial Times website reported Friday.
The deal would create a close to 100 billion dollar business in the most ambitious act of corporate consolidation since the start of last year's credit crunch shook the markets.
A spokesman for InBev, which earlier this month reported a "difficult start" to 2008, would not comment on the report.
The Belgian-Brazilian brewer, which already owns such brands as Stella Artois, Beck's and Leffe and Brahma, aims to create the fifth largest consumer products group in the world, the FT reported.
The report, citing unidentified sources, said that while extensive work had been carried out on the transaction, InBev was "not about to push the button."
However, Inbev is prepared to go straight to the US group's board, mapping out terms expected to be pitched at 65 dollars per share if a direct approach to Anheuser chief executive August Busch fails, the FT said.
After a preliminary approach last October, August Busch insisted he would protect Anheuser's independence, according to sources.
InBev's advisers now believe he would succumb to shareholder pressure to open merger talks.
On the Brussels bourse, Inbev shares, which had dipped four percent during the day, ended down 2.86 percent at 48.88 euros.
There has been intense speculation in the industry that such a tie-up might be on the cards.
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